How Does a Segway Work?


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Have You Ever Wondered, "How Does a Segway Scooter Work"?

The Segway personal transporter is a sophisticated piece of equipment that is much more complex than may first meet the eye.  It takes a lot of technology and advanced engineering to make the Segway operate as it does on 2 wheels.  Don't think that the Segway is anything like those cheap Chinese made stand up clones that you can get for $1000's less.  There's no comparison.  The Segway personal transporter is an amazing engineering marvel.  It becomes more apparent at how truly remarkable this machine is when you understand a little more about how it works.        

Segway Personal Transporter

At the heart of the answer to the question "How does a Segway work?" is an advanced microprocessor control system.  This microprocessor "brain" of the Segway takes information from 5 gyroscopic sensors which tells the onboard computer how much the Segway is leaning.  The more the machine leans, the more that the motors turn the wheels in the direction needed to keep the Segway upright.  When the operator leans to the side, the Segway adjusts motor speed and direction of each wheel to make a safe and controlled turn.  This whole self balancing system is what is so remarkable about this machine.

Policeman Riding Segway 

Without these sophisticated controls, then it would be very difficult for a driver to master balancing on such a 2 wheeled transporter.  In fact, without the sophisticated self balancing system, a 2 wheel scooter like this could probably only be ridden by highly trained person.  It would be kind of like riding on a unicycle.  It's not just something that anyone can just jump on and start riding immediately.  Thankfully, that is not the case with the Segway's sophisticated control system.  It is designed to be very user friendly with safety as a top priority.  In fact, the Segway is designed with redundancy in all key areas to try to ensure the utmost in safety.  For instance, only 3 gyroscopic sensors would be necessary to control such a machine, but the Segway incorporates 5 gyro sensors for extra redundancy and safety.  In addition, motors have double windings so that if one set of windings fail, then the redundant windings help keep the motors running.  Furthermore, the lithium ion battery packs are configured so that if some of the cells fail, then there should still be additional battery power available to keep the motors running.  All this redundancy is intended to help make the Segway safer for the user. 

In a simplified summary statement, the answer to the question of how does a Segway work is as follows: the computerized brain takes input from sensors, which in turn determines how much power to send to each motor, so that the Segway remains upright while going in the direction (and at the speed) that the operator determines.  Very simple to write, but no simple engineering feat to design and build such a machine.  Segway has succeeded in doing this!

How much does a Segway scooter cost?

Just how much does it cost?  Below you will see some pricing on the Segway i2 and x2 scooter models.  Final cost will be influenced by where you purchase the Segway scooter and any optional features that are selected.     

Segway Scooter Cost

Segway Scooter i2 ~ $4400 - $5000

The Segway i2 scooter is Segway's on-road personal transport.  It is intended for traveling across smooth surfaces with a maximum range of up to 24 miles.  The i2 weighs in at 105 lbs and has 19" diameter tires with a 25" overall machine width.  Various options and accessories are available from Segway to upgrade this machine.  For those that want the ability to traverse areas that are a little rougher, there is the Segway x2 scooter as seen below.

Off Road Segway Price

Segway Scooters x2 ~ $5400 - $5900

The Segway x2 comes with all terrain tires and large fenders.  The x2 has larger 21" diameter tires that help it roll over uneven surfaces better which might be encountered off road.  With an overall width of 33", the Segway x2 has a wider wheel track to further help with stability in off-road conditions.  The x2 is rated for a range of up to 12 miles over off the pavement surfaces.  Keep in mind that this is not an ATV that will be able to climb steep hills or cross extreme off road conditions, but it is more off road capable than the i2. 

Segway has also developed a line of patrol transporters that they have custom tailored for law enforcement, military, security, and emergency response teams.  With its 12.5 mph top speed, the Segway allows personnel to travel ground more quickly and get to the scene faster.  See the table below to see how the Segway's 12.5 mph speed compares to some other modes of travel.

Typical Walking Speed 2-3 mph
Typical Jogging Speed 5-6 mph
Typical Biking Speed 10-12 mph

In addition to the speed advantage, the Segway also provides a visibility advantage in a couple different ways.  First of all, it increases visibility from the perspective of the rider.  The increased height of the Segway rider helps to give them a better view over the height of crowds and obstacles.  In addition, visibility is also increased from the perspective of bystanders.  Personnel that are on foot are more likely to just blend into the crowds, but the Segway can help draw attention to the presence of the personnel.  This can be beneficial for law enforcement, security, and EMS personnel who want to make their presence known to not only deter potential criminal activity but also to get the attention of the general public to let them know that they are in the vicinity.  So whether you are considering a Segway for personal use, business, or security type uses, there are many options available and Segway can customize a machine for the intended purpose.  For some people, a Segway scooter might be a useful mode of personal transportation.   Granted, the Segway transporters are not cheap, but they are also not cheaply made.  They are highly advanced vehicles that are made with very sophisticated and expensive components.  When you ask the question, "how much does a Segway scooter cost?" you should also consider benefits such as the freedom it offers, convenience, fuel & parking cost savings, and other similar factors in your decision making process.